Associate Professor David Barker

BSc(Hons)/PhD (Sydney)

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Associate Professor



  • 2001 - University of Sydney, Australia, PhD, Organic Chemistry
  • 1997 - University of Sydney, Australia, BSc (Hons 1st Class), Honours in Organic Chemistry

Previous appointments

  • 2001-2003 University of New South Wales– National Health & Medical Research Council of Australia Research Associate

Research | Current

My research focuses on the synthesis of organic molecules and whilst doing so exploring fundamental chemical principles to aid the development of efficient synthetic methods, the preparation of novel molecular structures and to answer complex biological questions.

At present my research group is working on number of different research areas including, the development of new synthetic methodologies enabling he preparation of DNA-binding molecules, the synthesis of bioactive lignans (plant derived natural products) and the synthesis of complex alkaloids as novel treatments for dementia and cancer. Along with this my research group is active in the development of new synthetic methods to prepare organic molecules rich in heteroatoms, such as nitrogen, oxygen and sulfur. I also am active in a number of national and international multidisciplinary research projects working on areas such as the development of new polymeric materials, natural product synthesis and determination and the synthesis of labelled wine components for wine profiling.

My current research focuses on numerous areas including

  • Synthesis of 1,4-benzodioxane lignans biological active and have a wide range of activites including cytotoxicity, acting as alpha-or beta-blocking agents useful in antidepression or antihypertension therapy.
  • Synthesis of bioactive heterocycles such as thieno- and furano-pyridines. These compounds have been shown to inhibit a number of important enzymes involved in cell regulation and are being analysed for their anticancer activity.
  • Synthesis of complex dineolignans, which have wide ranging biological activities including HIF-1 inhibition (an anticancer target) and neuroprotective properties.
  • Synthesis of novel heterocyclic frameworks based on substituted pyrroles.
  • Synthesis of complex bioactive marine natural products that contain substituted pyrroles. Current molecules of interest are: Trikentramine, the Mukanadins, Lamellarins and Kottamides
  • Synthesis and modulation of bioactive compounds derived from grape material
  • Synthesis of novel polymeric materials including advanced conducting polymers
  • Synthesis of isotopically labelled natural products for use in quantitative analysis
  • Synthesis of novel antibacterial materials from renewable, bio-based, sources


Teaching | Current

I current teach the following courses.

CHEM 110, CHEM 230, CHEM 330, CHEM 390, CHEM 735 and PHARM 312

Postgraduate supervision

Current Students

Nina Duhamel, PhD 2013- (with Dr Bruno Fedrizzi)

Rueben White, PhD 2014-

Rebecca Jelley, PhD 2015- (with Dr Bruno Fedrizzi)

Shi Min Tan, PhD 2015- (with Dr Bruno Fedrizzi)

Stephen Lo, PhD 2016-

Min Wang PhD 2016- (with Prof. Jadranka Travas-Sejdic)

Hua Lyu PhD 2017- (with Dr. Bruno Fedrizzi)

Natalie Haverkate PhD 2017-

Delsa Pulickal Joseph PhD 2017-

Mohinder Naiya PhD 2017-

Ziyao Wan PhD 2018- 

Andrew Twidle PhD 2018-

Emily Paulin PhD 2018-

Shaun Rees PhD 2018-

Tuan Minh (Marcus) Luong MSc 2018-

Hayden Jones-Moore MSc 2018-

Mikael Johannisson-Wallman MSc 2018- (with Dr Bruno Fedrizzi)

Previous Students


Sok Teng (Amy) Tong (2009), Kirsten Goodall (2010), Kevin Sparrow (2011), Gul Shahzada Khan (2011), Claire Rye (2011), Glenn Archibald (2011), Anupama Rao Gulur Srinivas (2013), Benjamin Dickson (2013), Emma Dickson (2013), Nora Dittrich (2014), Lisa Pilkington (2015), Michelle van Rensburg (2016), Mona Damavandi (2017), Eunkyung (Kelly) Jung (2017), Wai-Chi (Eddie) Chan (2017), Samuel Davidson (2018)


Christopher Ritchie (2005), Kirsten Goodall (2006), Anna Mai (2006), Joy Min-Chih Hung (2012), Soo-Min (Emma) Song (2012), Stephen Lo (2015), Harpreet Kaur Brar (2017), Natalie Haverkate (2017), Ziyao Wan (2017), Andrew Twidle (2018), Emily Paulin (2018)


Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Damavandi, M., Pilkington, L. I., Malmström J, Whitehead, K. A., Travas-Sejdic, J., & Barker, D. (2018). Poly-p-phenylenevinylene-g-poly(2-(methacryloyloxy)Ethyl)trimethylammonium chloride (PPV-g-PMETAC): A fluorescent, water-soluble, selective anion sensor. Journal of Polymer Science, Part A: Polymer Chemistry, 56 (17), 1997-2003. 10.1002/pola.29087
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Jenny Malmstrom, Lisa Pilkington, Jadranka Travas-Sejdic
  • Baek, P., Mata, J. P., Sokolova, A., Nelson, A., Aydemir, N., Shahlori, R., ... Travas-Sejdic, J. (2018). Chain shape and thin film behaviour of poly(thiophene)-graft-poly(acrylate urethane). Soft matter, 14 (33), 6875-6882. 10.1039/c8sm00777b
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Jadranka Travas-Sejdic, Duncan McGillivray
  • Voorhaar, L., Chan, E. W. C., Baek, P., Wang, M., Nelson, A., Barker, D., & Travas-Sejdic, J. (2018). Self-healing polythiophene phenylenes for stretchable electronics. European Polymer Journal, 105, 331-338. 10.1016/j.eurpolymj.2018.06.015
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Jadranka Travas-Sejdic
  • Baek, P., Voorhaar, L., Barker, D., & Travas-Sejdic, J. (2018). Molecular Approach to Conjugated Polymers with Biomimetic Properties. Accounts of chemical research, 51 (7), 1581-1589. 10.1021/acs.accounts.7b00596
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Jadranka Travas-Sejdic
  • van Rensburg, M., Copp, B. R., & Barker, D. (2018). Synthesis and Absolute Stereochemical Reassignment of Mukanadin F: A Study of Isomerization of Bromopyrrole Alkaloids with Implications on Marine Natural Product Isolation. European Journal of Organic Chemistry, 2018 (24), 3065-3074. 10.1002/ejoc.201800422
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Brent Copp
  • Chan, E. W. C., Bennet, D., Baek, P., Barker, D., Kim, S., & Travas-Sejdic, J. (2018). Electrospun Polythiophene Phenylenes for Tissue Engineering. Biomacromolecules, 19 (5), 1456-1468. 10.1021/acs.biomac.8b00341
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Jadranka Travas-Sejdic
  • Twidle, A. M., Barker, D., Seal, A. G., Fedrizzi, B., & Suckling, D. M. (2018). Identification of Floral Volatiles and Pollinator Responses in Kiwifruit Cultivars, Actinidia chinensis var. chinensis. Journal of chemical ecology, 44 (4), 406-415. 10.1007/s10886-018-0936-2
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Andrew Twidle, Bruno Fedrizzi, Max Suckling
  • Kerr-Phillips, T. E., Aydemir, N., Chan, E. W. C., Barker, D., Malmström J, Plesse, C., & Travas-Sejdic, J. (2018). Conducting electrospun fibres with polyanionic grafts as highly selective, label-free, electrochemical biosensor with a low detection limit for non-Hodgkin lymphoma gene. Biosensors and Bioelectronics, 100, 549-555. 10.1016/j.bios.2017.09.042
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Jadranka Travas-Sejdic, Jenny Malmstrom


Contact details

Primary office location

SCIENCE CENTRE 301 - Bldg 301
Level 6, Room 627B
New Zealand

Web links